https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/01/22/education-in-the-media-monday-22-january-2018/

Education in the media: Monday 22 January 2018

Girl writing

Today’s education in the media blog discusses a report from Action for Children on children’s centres, university costs for students and an Opportunity Area in Derby.

Action for Children

Yesterday, Sunday 21 January, the charity Action for Children published a report of new analysis suggesting that nearly 1,000 children’s centres across England have not been inspected for over five years.

This story has been covered today by BBC Breakfast and online by BBC News.

All early years provision in children’s centres is subject to Ofsted inspection. We believe that it is up to local councils to decide how to organise and commission services in their area as they are best placed to understand local needs and how to meet them. More than £200 billion will be available to councils for local services up to 2020, and councils increased spending on children and young people’s services to over £9 billion in 2015-16.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

All early years provision in children’s centres is subject to robust and regular Ofsted inspection. Local authorities who manage children’s centres must also ensure that other services provided in the centres have appropriate safeguards in place.

We are determined to improve early years provision across the board. That is why we have pledged to close the word gap and have invested £200m to develop new and better ways of delivering children’s services to ensure they are high quality and meet the needs of families across the country.

Tuition fees and student rents

On Saturday 20 January, the Times ran an editorial focusing on tuition fees, urging the government to defend the current system. The copy notes that students from lower income background are not being deterred from applying to university by tuition fees. Following on from this, on Sunday 21 January the Observer ran a piece on student rent arrears following an FOI request by the Liberal Democrats. The data suggests over 17,000 students living in university halls fell into rental arrears in the past year.

There has been an ongoing conversation about tuition fees and student finance in the media. The Department will shortly be launching a review across tertiary education to make sure the system is working for everyone.

We are clear that the current funding system targets support at those from the lowest income families, who need it most.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Students from the lowest-income households who started their courses this year have access to the largest ever amounts of cash-in-hand support for their living costs.

This government increased means-tested maintenance support for full-time students on the lowest incomes by 10.3 per cent in 2016/17 compared with the previous grants and loans package, with further increases in both 2017/18 and 2018/19. This reiterates our commitment that all young people, regardless of background, can go to university.

Opportunity areas

The Financial Times wrote today, Monday 22 January, about the department’s Opportunity Area programme in Derby, which is about improving social mobility in some of the places most in need in England.

The article focuses on the efforts of the scheme to improve attainment at every educational level in Derby from a local primary school, to businesses and onto the University of Derby.

Just last week, we published the latest Opportunity Area plans, which have been developed with local schools, employers and organisations and set out how they will improve the life chances of young people in these communities. Read more about last week’s announcement here.

Read more about social mobility and Opportunity Areas here.